Archive for September, 2011

Most of the time, my mind and heart are focused on pushing forward – never being satisfied with the way things are and where I stand in my relationship with God, in my family life and in my work.  I approach my leadership with the church in the same way – we cannot sit and stagnate, we must constantly being looking forward and pressing on toward the goal for which Jesus has called us.

But every once in a while it hits me.  I serve a loving and compassionate God who occasionally tells me, “Why don’t you just sit a minute and rest in me.”  Unfortunately, it takes discipline for me to do that but when I do, it is amazing!

I also need to remember that God has given me a wonderful, caring, supportive and totally hot wife whom I love with all my heart and who loves me.  And beyond that, God has  blessed us with three amazing young men for sons.  While I am not the husband and father that God wants me to be all the time, I am trying.  So maybe for today, I need to stop trying so hard and just for a moment simply be present and offer thanks for a great family.

And as it relates to my work – my calling, I serve the God of the universe who has placed me in what might just be the best congregation in America.  Our people are loving, supportive, welcoming, outward focused and committed to pray for me as their shepherd.  What more could a pastor want?  I had one of these loving and supportive members approach me last week after the service and say, “You are exactly the person our church needs as our pastor.”  As I gave her a hug, it dawned on me and I told her, “This is exactly the church that God knew I needed too!”

Today, I am taking a break from thinking exclusively about how things should be (just for a minute) and thanking God for how the important things are in my life.  The result?  I am truly blessed!

How about you?  Has God blessed you?

Read Full Post »

Souled Out

This morning, my Bible reading was out of Luke.  Jesus was talking to some of his followers and asked them to follow him.  One listener replied by saying he would but he needed to go take care of some family business first.  Another said he needed to go and say good-bye to his family first.  Both of these replies seem reasonable on the surface.  But Jesus used this moment to make a point.

He told them that a person who puts his hand to the plow but then turns back is not fit to serve in God’s Kingdom.  While this seems a bit harsh, don’t miss the point that Jesus was making – and makes for us today.  We cannot commit half-heartedly to follow Jesus.  We are either all in or we are not worth much.  As I thought about this passage, it reminded me of an older Lecrae song titled, Souled Out.  The hook in the song says this:

We Souled Out 
Seeking God’s face till we fold out 
you want it, we got it 
we ain’t tryin’ to hold out 
break me, shake me, mold me 
I would rather die like Christ 
than live unholy 

What Jesus expects from us is our undivided passion, our undying commitment, our loyalty – in two words – our life.

Are you all in?  Are you souled out today?



Read Full Post »

One Day Well Spent

I took a few minutes yesterday to do a little heavy reading.  Most of you know me well enough to know that if I am going to do “heavy” reading, I have to do it in small doses.  One of the books I am working through is by a classic author, Thomas á Kempis, entitled The Imitation of Christ.  The few pages I read dealt with the importance of making our time here on earth count for something.  Here is what he said,

What avails it to live long, when we amend ourselves so little!  Alas, length of days does not always amend us, but often rather increases our fault!  Oh, that we had well spent but one day in this world!  Many there are who count the years of their life in religion; and yet slender oftentimes is the fruit of amendment.

The way I interpret this little passage is that we often approach life as if we have many more opportunities to make a difference – many more days to live for Jesus – many more years to serve God.  So the result is that we tend to put off until tomorrow those things that oftentimes would make a huge impact in someone else’s life today.

á Kempis reminds us that not one of us is guaranteed a tomorrow.  By waiting until tomorrow, we often add to our own demise.

If you knew that you only had 3 days to live, what would today look like?  What would you do today if you knew you would not be here on Friday?  Who would you call?  Who would you help?

The challenge for today is simple – live as if today was your last chance to make a difference!

“Oh, that we had well spent but one day in this world!”

Read Full Post »

How Thirsty Are You?

We are in the midst of some remodeling projects at the house.  Yesterday, that involved a trip into the attic for me.  Now I don’t know if you climb around in your attic very often, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind before setting off for an adventure into the dark, dusty cramped spaces of the area above your ceilings.

The first thing is that it is . . . dark, dusty and cramped.

The second thing to remember is that you will need to add a minimum of 20 degrees to the outside temperature and that will be the climate inside your attic.

Yesterday – 91 degrees outside.  So, you guessed it, my attic was like a dry sauna.  Luckily, I did not have to spend a lot of time up there.  But I was there long enough to get a bit parched.

When I got back to the cool and clammy 91 degree garage, I was thirsty!

I went straight to the kitchen and found something to give my thirst the relief it was seeking.

I was reminded of a passage in the Psalms.  Psalm 42:1-2 says this:

1 As the deer pants for streams of water, 
   so my soul pants for you, my God. 
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. 
   When can I go and meet with God? 

I had to ask myself, “Do I long for God on a daily basis with the same desire as I had longed for something to drink while in the attic?”  The reality is that we cannot live very long without water.  But the truth be told, we can last even less time without God.

So here is my prayer for myself today and feel free to make it yours as well.

Lord Jesus, I love you and desire to be near you.  Help me to desire you more!

Be blessed today!

Read Full Post »

The Power of a Team

Last night we had our first Wednesday Evening Meal here at the church.  The church has offered one in the past but over the last couple of years had discontinued it.  I have to admit, I was not sure how it would go.  When we stopped the meal, we continued feeding children in our gym on Wednesday nights and feeding our students in our youth area.  The problem with that set up (other than the obvious duplication of work) was that everything was segregated.  It just did not seem like a picture of the church to me.  So we pulled it all together and last night was our pilot run.

I am not blind to the fact that we had some minor bumps to work out, but I have to tell you, it went really well!  And the most amazing thing was that I didn’t have to feel like I needed to stand over the process.  There was a team of people who worked together to make it happen and it was awesome!  Thanks folks for your work and your attitude in being willing to give this a try.  It would not have happened without you!

Another example from last night came from our student ministry.  Right now we do not have  a paid minister in charge of our student ministry.  I had a meeting a couple of weeks ago with the adults who are working in this area of our church and we did some planning and thinking about how to organize things.  Last night, we had a lot of students here but I knew that things were taken care of because of our ministry team!  As a pastor, I cannot tell you how much of a burden that lifts from my shoulders to know that our students are being ministered to and taught by a dedicated team of men and women.  The results of last night – – we had a young lady make a decision to follow Jesus and entrust her life to him.

So I just wanted to take a few words here to brag on our teams!  You guys ROCK!

Read Full Post »

Where Is Your Focus

Today, I read from a little devotion book that was given to me for my birthday a few days ago.  Today’s thought dealt with where we put our focus.  Our attention needs to be continually directed to God.

In reality, that is the foundational struggle for any believer.  We have a moment with God and things are great.  But then life happens and we take our eyes off of God and begin to focus on our situation and before we know it, we have gotten so wrapped up in our problems we forget about God altogether.  The discipline of following Jesus is constantly pushing to keep our focus on him.

When we maintain our focus on Jesus, we often see that the problems that come our way are actually trivial.  When we continually put Jesus first, over time we realize that we begin to see things as Jesus sees them.  The daily struggles aren’t nearly as insurmountable as they used to be.  We also realize that when big problems do come our way, we are better equipped to handle them with grace and peace.

So where is your focus today?

The apostle Paul calls us to focus beyond what is right in front of us.  He says this in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Today, don’t focus on the temporary – focus on the eternal!

Be blessed today!

Read Full Post »

One of my new found bands (new to me at least) that I enjoy to listen to is the Glitch Mob – not a Christian band – you can gasp now if you like.  Their music falls into the electronica / jazz genre.   At any rate, I like listening because most of their songs don’t have lyrics – just music.  It’s upbeat and fun.

But one of their songs does have some lyrics – a sort of love ballad in a way.  The title of the song is Between Two Points .  The chorus says, “The shortest distance between two points is a line – – between me and you.”  As I listened to the words this morning it got me to thinking about the distance between God and those we see.

Could it be that the closest distance between God and the person is front of me is a line between that person and myself?

You see, as followers in The Way, we are called to be Jesus to those with whom we come in contact on a daily basis.  We are to be the conduit by which God connects to the people around us.

So today, remember that the shortest distance between God and the people in your path this day is a line that runs right through the middle of you!

Be a blessing today!

Read Full Post »

This morning, my reading and prayer time focused on the book of Jude.  The primary purpose for this one chapter book or letter was the concern for keeping the faith.

As I read the verses, I became challenged – which often happens when we read scripture.

In verse 3, the author says this:

I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.

Contend for the faith.  I had to ask myself, “do I ever find myself in a position that I must contend for my faith?”  I had to admit that I don’t feel I have to do that very often.  So that made me wonder, “why not?”

Part of the answer for that is I don’t run in circles very often that go against my faith.  Or do I?

Could it be that we have made our faith so comfortable that we fail to see what meaningful faith looks like any more?  Just wondering.

The other factor in this verse is the statement that this faith has been entrusted to God’s holy people.  I am not sure I qualify as a “holy person,” but as I think about it, the church is God’s primary source of holy people.  So how are we doing?  Are we keeping the faith?

Here is the stark reality – and it is no different today than it was in the day in which this letter was written by Jude – our faith is always one generation away from extinction!  Is the faith with which we have been entrusted being kept?  Are we passing on the faith God entrusted to us?

Think about it today!

Read Full Post »

This coming Sunday is the National Come Back to Church Day.  We have decided to make that a matter of focus here in our congregation.  We have mailed out cards and put the word out.  We have communicated to our community that if they have a church home, they should attend there but if not, they are welcome here.

As I have thought about the approaching day, I have thought a lot about why we should make gathering together a part of our lives.  Scripture reminds us that we should not stop meeting together, but rather we should gather and encourage one another to continue living for Jesus – “to spur one another on to good works” as the apostle Paul says.

The reality is that we were created for community – to be together.  Look at the growth in popularity of the trendy coffee shops.  I admit, there is something attractive and hip about hanging out with friends while sipping on a coffee in a setting where conversation is open and acceptance is not forced.

That used to be the church.  What has happened in our culture?

I think in part, the church has lost it’s appeal due to the fact that the focus was taken off of relationships and put on religion.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe the Bible with all my heart.  And beyond that, I choose to associate with the Baptist denomination because I feel the belief system more closely fits my thinking about theology than any other system.

But I have to wonder . . . when we get to heaven, will God look at me and say, “Just think of how many more lives you could have impacted if you had been a little less concerned about religion and more focused on loving people in my name.”

I wonder . . .

Read Full Post »

Simplicity of Worship

After listening to my daily podcast devotional on my drive this morning, I switched over to a little David Crowder.  On their album, Illuminate, there is a song titled Only You.  As I listened to the words of that song, I was reminded of the simplicity of worship.

It occurred to me that we have done it again!  We have done a great job of taking something really simple and making it very complicated and even a point of contention in many churches.

The chorus of the song is this:

And I will worship You, Lord
Only You, Lord
And I will bow down before You
Only You Lord.

That’s it.  Pretty simple.  On Sunday morning, we have become so concerned about the sound we are looking for or if it sparks some memory of worshipful moments in our past that we have forgotten that the goal of worship is not about us.  It is about bowing down to the one true God.

I wonder if we were to get back to the basics of worship if that would take care of a lot of our problems in most of our churches today.

Just wondering!


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »